The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Di Ellis

Contemporary embroidery art via Mr X Stitch

Di Ellis is a print maker and stitcher from Melbourne, Australia. I was intrigued by her work, which takes familiar garments and puts a clever spin on them. Here’s what Di had to say about her tattoo wedding set:

I started off looking at paintings of 15century Italian princesses and thinking how their sleeves were not unlike tattoo “sleeves” that are very popular now. So I combined a medieval sleeve pattern compliments of Janet Arnold with tattoo flash. I printed the tatts onto calico and with a random stitch and machine cotton filled in the images. I likened the link to the process of creating a tattoo. Even spending a day stitching  the sleeve in a tattoo parlour. After that I quilted the sleeve and sewed it up.

“Originally I displayed it on a live model. What obliging friends I have ! But when asked to display it at Port Jackson Press in their little window of opportunity had to come up with a new plan. After being given a 1940’s wedding dress I thought to combine the two and added a garter, lucky horseshoe and veil to the ensemble.

“I find there is usually a touch of soft/hard, male/female in my work, the contrast appeals. This is echoed in my suite of soft body armour or the purity pants set, which is a range of quilted undergarments with icons for further protection.

I really like Di’s work. Underpinned by an excellence of execution, her work modifies familiar garments in ways that are witty and smart. I am surprised that there aren’t more tattoo style wedding dresses out there already. The use of icons and images for protection has been commonplace throughout history and it’s great to see Di revisiting these traditions within her work.

I particularly like the Soft Armour project – these traditionally offensive bits of defensive clothing are softened through the application of kind words and different fabrics. It’s a simple idea, but it works very well.

Di’s projects really appeal to me – I’m excited to see what she comes up with next. You can find out more about Di at her blog.


The Cutting & Stitching Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the must-have embroidered art book by Mr X Stitch !